Monthly Archives: July 2011

Pause

I will be extremely busy with traveling and searching for my soul in the following month. I won’t have time to blog even though I have an overflow of juices to pour out.

Stay tuned for September issues.

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How much I loathe “How R U?” & “Wassup?”

As I stepped inside the elevator at 6:30 pm, a colleague leaving work at the same time asked me, “How are you?” with a smile that sparkled.

It sounded as odd and out of place as “good morning” to me at that time of the day.

I’m…good. 

Swallowing my tears, I pushed myself to utter the socially acceptable answer to the question.

“How are you?” Asked he again with his eyes sparkling this time. Apparently, my voice was too feeble to be heard or too damp to be believed. He probably expected me to return the question with a big, bright beam.

I’m good! Didn’t you hear me say so? Had there not been a dam blocking my throat, I would’ve protested. Yet I simply whimpered again, I’m good.

Were I allowed to tell how I really were? Were I allowed to give any alternative answers other than ones that exuded optimism and confirmed how good I was feeling?

“How are you?” is one question that I find even more imbecile than “how was your weekend?”. Not only does it not help to initiate a meaningful conversation, it imposes absolute social obligation on the respondent to comply. 

Does the following dialogue sound familiar?

A: How was your weekend?

B: It was good…You asked me that 3 times today.

A: Hey how’s the coffee?

B: It’s good…Your friend just asked me the same thing. 

What does “how are you?” help to accomplish? Perhaps the one question that outshines “how are you” in vacuity is “how’s the weather?”

Say that I responded with “oh I feel terrible today.” He’d probably feign with sympathy, “oh how come?”

Where would that lead anyway? Pouring out all my personal feelings to someone who is not your best friend is probably not the most judicious choice.

Another variation of “how are you” is “what’s up” or sometimes known as “wassup?”, which allows a lot more flexibility and creativity in your answer. However, the fact that it is an open question tends to throw some people off guard. Instead of multiple choices, “wassup” can be just as challenging as a question that appears on an essay exam. The typical answer “I’m good” no longer applies here, unless you don’t mind coming across as uncool.

A friend of mine echoed similar discomfort in responding to “wassup?”

“I just don’t know what to say when people ask me what’s up!”

You’re not alone. “How are you” might not lead anywhere, but at least it’s within the comfort zone of most people, whereas “what’s up” poses risks that delight only the unbridled spirits .

Anyhow, both are way too ambiguous. A greeting that I’d feel most comfortable with, other than statements like “hello”, must be specific to the needs of the respondent and take into consideration of the present context. It has to be tailored to the respondent’s interests in order to bring out any genuine response.

The majority, unfortunately, are not that considerate or percipient, to customize legitimate questions just for you. That’s why they often resort to the prepackaged generic ones: “how are you?”, “what’s up”, or variations of either one.

And that leaves the rest of us frustrated and me, frightened.

An equivalent of “how are you?” in Chinese is “have you eaten yet?”, which plagues me just as much, and makes me wonder if a so-and-so’s auntie expects me to have 10 meals in 3 hours?

Why not just say “hi”?

These Killer Eyes

Whenever I flash back the event I recently attended, I’m stung, once again, by these killer eyes.

When I met the speaker close up, I felt as if I had just been blinded by a laser beam or struck by the sun hanging in mid sky at noon in Sahara Dessert, where a royal princess emerged riding her camel.

Cleopatra

Cleopatra came alive, this time with bigger eyes

Cleopatra came alive.

Her eyes were so enormous and seductive that these were probably the one and only thing I took away from the talk, aside from the notes I took. Gaze at her for one second and you’d sense an irresistible force of being swallowed right into her eyes.

Her eye makeup further exaggerated the outline of her naturally enormous, distinctively Bollywood eyes.

I’ve never seen eyes like hers, never ever in the last two decades plus of my life.

Sitting in the last row, I found her voice affable. Coming up close, her eyes immediately drew a stark contrast against her affable voice and presentation style. The presence she exuded in front of me was so overwhelmingly magnetic, all attributed to her pair of inhuman, egg-size eyes.

Her eyes swallowed me.

They evoked intimidation in a girl. What kind of response would they elicit in a guy? Sexual? These eyes were bound to spellbind and confound.

Contenders in the animal kingdom for these eyes:

Gold Winner: "I win!"

Runner Up

“Don’t be a Hypocrite!” – Says the Hypocrite

haha you're half empty
It’s another day! Therefore I deserve another chance to rant. It’s 1:51 AM precisely. Pat on my back for waking up exactly 12 hours ago.

I just stumbled upon the blog of this guy that used to hold ineffable, irrational contempt for me back when I was part-time at the Consulate during my studies. His blatant contempt for me really disturbed me to this day. My natural response, upon the stumbling, was trying to seek out flaws in his blog that I could belittle with just as much intensity to my heart’s content.

Much to my consternation, his blog is full of insights about different cultures and current events. The first few pages on his observation of the American culture was rather humorous and refreshing. The next few pages on his view on prostitution in Asia was rather feminist.

Aside from the content, his English writing was superb. I didn’t know that before since I always converse in my awkward French with all French speakers, even with those whose English is far superior than my French.

I was a bit perplexed. Someone with so much righteousness and smarts treated me with scorn for no apparent reason. Now when you’re not appreciated by someone like that, you start questioning yourself, your own manners, your own disposition, your own getup, your own personality, your own behaviors, your own appearances, and you bombard a spider web of why why why ’til you drop dead from all the giddiness.

Now this isn’t a post about low self-esteem. What I’d like to point out is the hypocrisy of these righteous people who claim to love humanity, who claim to treat women fairly, who claim to be active in the “stop world hunger!” campaign.

made in china, boycott beijing olympic

Reminds me of the Singaporean salesman's famous gimmick: "This umbrella is not made in China! It's from Singapore."

What they say and display are grand and magnanimous. Yet how they treat people around them are completely contrary to the principles they claim to embrace.

I’m one of them. I admit. When I first came to Singapore, I felt scorn for this girl who was fidgeting with her hair while catching her reflection on iPhone. I thought, How pretentious! How vain!

Now that I recently got an iPhone, I gotta admit that it is a wonderful mirror.

I also dismiss the trend of wearing super duper fake long eyelashes and colored circle lenses in Singapore. However, one day I found myself hovering around a contact lens shop, staring at the “natural lenses that make your eyes bigger” ad. Approaching the sales lady with caution, I inquired, “Um…how much are these? I mean I just want to try them out for few times because I’m curious. No no no I don’t need 10 sets. 2 pairs enough. I’m just curious.” There I was emphasizing that I was plain “curious” – a true fact – and not trying to enlarge my eyes in any unnatural way. In the end, after internal debates, I didn’t get these magical lenses.

And what about beauty pageants? Again, I dismiss them big time. I find it just another ostentatious way of objectifying women. The message delivered is clear: to be a queen, you have to have a perfect face and body above all – that’s a prerequisite. Intelligence is desired, but secondary to outward beauty. A good heart is optional.

Fine, I’ve signed up for and participated in a few in the past myself. Who am I to judge? Had I won any title I would’ve been tilting my opinion otherwise, probably glorifying the whole event as something that empowers women (and contributes to world peace)!

I’m a hypocrite, apparently.

When I was in Battambang, Cambodia, I grew so sick on my last day that I had to excuse myself from the dinner table of few new friends that I had just met. Two of them were starting up some non-profit organization in Cambodia to save the orphans.

“I’m so sorry. I really have to go back to the hotel room to rest. I can’t eat any of this.”

“What? You mean you’re not coming back?”

I was met with apathy and skepticism, as if I were sick by choice or pretending to be sick. They could at least pretend to have sympathy. Or were I just too inept at giving credibility to my sudden illness? It wasn’t malaria, I know. It was just some plain old stomach-ache that deserved to be dismissed.

I’m not name calling anyone.

What I am trying to illustrate is that…everyone, each one of us, is a hypocrite, in one way or another.

That no one is truly honest with him/herself. No one is impeccable and divine. Every one of us must’ve offended someone in our life whether or not it was intended. Every one of us holds dear to some grand and noble principles or morals, be it vegetarianism or environmentalism or whatsoever, but none of us is able to act 100% on our beliefs and assertions.

As for that blogger guy, he should probably treat people around him more fairly to do justice to his tirade on injustice.

Make the world a brighter place by tearing down all the facade.

Difference between Seduction and Manipulation

I’m pretty much not catering to the reader’s interests since no one really reads my blog. I don’t care that much since this is a blog for me to ventilate, not for making myself famous in the eyes of the beholders. Indeed (my favorite word of the week), I’ve somehow collected 18 country flags. Yet I’ve noticed many of them only lingered on my page for…zero second. Were they all googlebot or were they just plain bored, horrified at what I had to say? Some did stay on my page for 20 minutes or more. That, I appreciate a lot. What I don’t appreciate is the mere lack of comments. Right, when I visit others’ blogs, I rarely leave comments.

So to get to the stage where people feel compelled to leave comments will require a bit of struggle and talent.

But as I mentioned before, this blog is purely for ventilation purposes.

art of seductionToday I’d like to discuss the book I’m reading:  Art of Seduction by Robert Greene. I haven’t really identified myself with any of the seducers, yet I’ve identified myself with many of the victim types. The gist of seducing someone is to create an illusion. You should always maintain a certain distance and remain mysterious so the counterpart never loses interest in you. It’s crucial to arouse curiosity and excitement at all times, as the book details.

That is common sense. I suppose that’s why I’ve been able to “steal” temporarily certain guys’ hearts, mainly because I move from place to place and rarely allow others to really get to know me. Sometimes it’s comforting to me that the guy tends to create some sort of fantasy for someone that doesn’t even exist in reality. And I happen to be the scapegoat to fulfill that fantasy.

I’ve never even experienced the traditional type of break up between a guy and a girl, where the relationship ends due to incompatibility and conflicts.

Each and every time I break up with a guy, it’s attributed to the elongation of distance.

For me, it’s not something in my control. So I wouldn’t call it seduction.

That book should be titled Art of Manipulation instead. Why? Seduction is natural and based on mutual attraction, whether it is physical or mental, normally physical. If you pull a one-nighter with someone, that is based on mutual consent and seduction. You can’t help it if you happen to seduce someone the right way at the right time in the right place, right?? However, if you seduce someone purposely and trick that person into falling for you, that is called manipulation.

So the difference between seduction and manipulation lies in that the former is natural, permissible, uncontrollable, whereas the latter is intentional, destructive, and should be outlawed and punished.

Japanese Sweets Buffet

I’ve seen ads about this sweets buffet since forever. Today I really wanted to try it.

And I wanted to experiment with posting via iPhone. so here you go some pictures:

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What impresses me about Japanese themed restaurants in Singapore is the blend of western and Japanese concepts. The pizza, originated from Italy, is distinctly Japanese with the salmon and crab fillings and wasabi coating, definitely tailored to the Asian taste. The neighboring restaurant employs a similar concept, where spaghetti is topped with Japanese ingredients and flavors and seafood. Even hawker centers here in Singapore are following the same concept. The western spaghetti dish sold for $3 or so can be requested with chili sauce spicy enough to burn your lips and stimulate your tears – that is if you request too much, as I always do.

My first time in life updating a post through iPhone. That brings infinite joy, indeed.

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Just a side note, the waiters here are all guys, and they are quite cute.

The Role Love Plays in Deciding Your Citizenship

US Embassy in Singapore

US Embassy in Singapore

I went to the US Embassy to add pages to my passport. While I was waiting, I overheard a young Asian lady endeavoring to renounce her citizenship. Initially I thought she meant to renounce her Singapore citizenship. After all, the majority of foreigners I’ve met in Singapore are quite resistant to embracing PR – Permanent Resident, let alone giving up their own citizenship. I’ve met two Indonesian guys in their early 20’s who’ve been living here in Singapore for 10 years, yet they refuse to acquire PR status. That is certainly understandable for a guy, taking into account of the National Service (NS) mandatory for PR. My landlord from mainland China has been in SG for over 15 years, yet she’s reluctant about becoming Singaporean. I’ve met a Scottish lady who’s been here for over 20 years and perfectly happy with her PR status and British passport.

These are not rare, but rather common cases. In view of this, I was a bit surprised when I realized it was her US citizenship that she was renouncing for the sake of acquiring Singapore citizenship.

I could only make one bold assumption: the power of love.

What confounded me was her accent – sometimes distinctively American, other times evidently Singaporean.

Again, my assumption stands: the influence of her loved one.

She fell deeply in love with a guy in Singapore. 

If she’s a vagrant like me, I suppose whichever passport she holds will be of little significance to where she resides or retires. After all, either of the two passports grants easy access to most countries in the world. So to renounce one or the other it wouldn’t make a gigantic difference.

Now coming back to my passport, I found the way they stitched the extra two set of 24 pages (48 pages in total) to my existing 27-page passport rather morbid. Instead of attaching both sets after the 27th page, they simply inserted the two sets in the middle.

That poses a problem for frequent travelers like me. Not all customs officers are smart and considerate enough to make the stamp on a page that has only been partially filled. Some of them are so vicious that they imprint a thumb-size stamp on a whole new page when other partially filled pages are begging for attention. That’s how I ended up paying $82 USD for new pages in spite of the few partially filled pages that are still available. Why? Some countries like Thailand, according to their website, request tourists to enter their territory with 2 – 3 completely blank pages.

It seems inevitable for me to mention travel. I might as well. I do have another blog dedicated to travel, but work is still…in progress.

Sim Lim Episode Follow-Up

Magistrate's Complaint

A form I filled out at Crime Registry, Subordinate Court of Singapore

Read: Sim Lim Square Shop Cheats & Hits Customer

Sim Lim Scam is Rampant
Sim Lim Scum is Hideous
Make Sure to Do Tedious Research
Or Else Lose All Your Dollars

After I filed the Magistrate’s Complaint at Crime Registry, Subordinate Court of Singapore, I was led to a little chamber to meet the judge.

Glancing through my file, the judge said, as a matter of fact, that it was not the first time he received cases about Sim Lim. “It is very common for this to happen to foreigners and tourists at Sim Lim.”

“You mean they’ve hit other customers, too?” I sought solace in community grievances.

“No, but overcharging is quite common. I don’t even go to Sim Lim myself. I never go there. Places like Mustafa and Burlington are better,” the judge educated me. “To shop at Sim Lim you need to be very intelligent and asking a lot of questions.”

The reason he went on and on about the reputation of Sim Lim was that I didn’t really have any hope in my case – primarily due to not having a witness.

Without a witness, I was only telling a story. The security camera, according to him, was a dummy camera that would erase all the record in 24-48 hours, and it wouldn’t capture very well. Even if it did capture the incident, the Sim Lim scum could defend himself by saying it was completely an accident that the calculator hit my ankle. Without a witness, it’d be a difficult to accuse the other party.

“The security guard saw it. Should I ask the security guard to be my witness?” I asked.

“The problem is that Singaporeans have not reached the stage where they’d go all the way to the court to help a stranger,” explained the judge.

Oh I totally believed him in that.

“What if I ask my parents’ lawyer in the US to help?”

“That wouldn’t work because this happened in Singapore.”

So, it is against the law to throw trash on the sidewalk and chew gums but legal to have citizens steal off of foreigners.

How ironic is it that they know about the Sim Lim practice yet they don’t investigate? Instead of sending undercover cops, they simply close one eye and let it corrode?

A friend suggested me to do investigative journalism and post it to Youtube – that would really embarrass Singapore.

I’ve found quite a few already:

Sim Lim Square Shop Cheats & Hits Customer

Read also: Sim Lim Episode Follow Up

In a nutshell…please do not go to Sim Lim. I almost got cheated out of $515 today. I cried, called the police, and argued for 3 hours and by 9pm received full refund. Do not go to iGadget on 1st floor. Tomorrow I am going to the subordinate court to sue the iGadget staff who threw a calculator at my ankle.

You would not believe what happened to me. Some days in Singapore feel like emotional torture to me. I just cannot believe what people would do for money.

I’ve had so much emotional stress today that I’ll just keep this short:

1. I went to Sim Lim Square to inquire about unlocking my phone. I told the staff at iGadget that I upgraded my phone so that’s why my sim card bought by my dad wouldn’t work. I asked them if they had an upgraded micro sim for unlocking my iPhone.

2. The two salesmen at iGadget, Edward Lim and Eddy Wong, said yes. Unlock sim is $80 and they would give it to me for $60. I agreed.

3. I asked around other shops while they were unlocking. Other shops were asking for $50-80 as well. So I thought it was the market price.

4. After they unlocked it, I asked if it had been jailbroken. The white T-shirt guy named Eddy Wong said that you can’t jailbreak with a sim card (well Youtube said you can?). Eddy said that jailbreak is trickier because it’s a US phone. I just wanted to get it over with it and said okay, how much is jailbreak. Eddy answered, “$60.” I asked, “How about $100 for unlock and jailbreak. He bit his lips, slanted his head, and agreed. Whoa wasn’t I good at bargaining?

5. Hours later, I came back. Eddy and Edward said my iPhone had been unlocked and jailbroken successfully. According to them, the two Gevey sim cards my dad sent me had been spoiled, and therefore they replaced it with another one. I nodded. They asked me if I wanted to pay by card or cash. I handed them my Mastercard.

6. Minutes later, they swiped the card and told me to sign the receipt. I signed my name on the receipt, then IMMEDIATELY crossed out my signature when I saw the staggering number: $515.

I thought it was a typo. I was like, WHAT? $515? It was supposed to be $100!

The Ed brothers (Eddy and Edward) smiled maliciously and explained to me, “$100 was only software. Your original turbo sim was spoiled. So we had to replace it. So that was another $!#$#. Then the other thing would cost another $@#$#. So everything would be $515.”

I felt as if I had been struck by lightening.

Find out What Happened Next!

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